Catholic, Independent Elementary Schools Serving Chicago's Children Since 1876


Alumni Profiles

Elysabeth Alfano A'80

For alumna Elysabeth Alfano A’80, an ordinary week might consist of appearing on a couple television news shows, speaking on some radio stations, and hanging out with actor Joaquin Phoenix to give animal compassion at a Los Angeles slaughterhouse. Although one could rightly call her a Renaissance woman, Elysabeth defines herself as a “plant-based expert for radio and tv.” Elysabeth is also a talented individual who has turned her personal passion for cooking and animals into a successful career that continues to grow and flourish.

A lifelong Chicagoan, Elysabeth started her career in the corporate world as an associate brand manager for Special K at Kellogg. After two years, she moved back to Chicago and opened an art gallery, which eventually led her to pursue her interest in journalism. 

Today, she is a regular contributor to the WGN Radio, WCPT Radio, NYC’s 870AM The Answer, WGN-TV, WCIU-TV, Good Morning LALALand, and KGO-San Francisco. She has had her own podcast since 2018, and in January 2020, she started her own radio show—the first plant-based radio show in the country. Her radio show covers medical news, tips for a plant-based lifestyle, food and innovation news, and breaking environmental news. She is also an executive producer and chef on the new Amazon Prime vegan cooking show, “New Day New Chef.” In her “spare time,” she does speaking events, consultations, and cooks as much as she can.

The years that Elysabeth spent at Sacred Heart laid a solid foundation for the person that she is today, and she constantly thinks about those early years of her education. She recognizes that her most enduring exposure to feminism came from the Religious of the Sacred Heart. She credits the nuns who taught her for making her the “strong-willed, verbal woman” that she is today. Elysabeth speaks fondly of the sisters who “taught students to educate themselves, speak intelligently, know your facts, never back down, and do it with a smile on your face.” More than any other school that she attended (which includes Saint Ignatius, Northwestern University, and Cornell University), she credits Sacred Heart for best preparing her to be a leader.

Additionally, Elysabeth loved her single gender education; she feels that it contributed to her self-confidence and with knowing how to present her strengths (with no distractions of boys). At the same time, she happily remembers playing with the Hardey students after school, meeting them for pizza at a local restaurant, and (shhh!) hiding notes in the Bibles for them to find. She appreciates that her education at Sacred Heart focused on the whole person—from academics and handwriting to how to present yourself. 

Elysabeth connects Sacred Heart with her current life in one word: compassion. Just as the teachers showed their students compassion, they taught Elysabeth and her friends to have compassion for all creatures. She remembers “lessons about how to move through the world with compassion.” To this day, Elysabeth continues to grapple with a societal “cognitive dissonance”—that most people have love and kindness for animals, but continue to hurt them by eating meat. 

That said, Elysabeth is rarely without a smile on her face, whether she is speaking enthusiastically about plant-based cooking, her latest project, or fondly remembering her time at Sacred Heart.